Wednesday, November 28

Fun with Dyeing

Here's what playing with saturation can do:


Store updated with these new colors and a few repeats.


and some new laceweight:

Tuesday, November 27

Because they went digital and mothballed the mobile units.

Note to self: When planning the bus route to take you to your early morning mammogram appointment in a part of town you've never been to by bus and the bus turns out to be a commuter express, stop and consider that commuters stay all day and that route might not run in both directions in the morning.

Fortunately, from First Hill it's downhill everywhere, including Capitol Hill. I know how to get home from Capitol Hill. And the weather was nice and I wasn't in a hurry. And if I had researched an optimal ride home, I might not have found out that __________ _________ now sells ____ _____ and therefore would not have found ___ ___ _____ that will surprise _____ on Christmas.

Note to coffee shops. How about moving the tip jars to be accessible to where one picks up the coffee? Aren't tips based on service? Tipping when one pays means that one gambles on getting good service. Unfortunately the coffee shop near where I work has terrible service. I stopped automatically throwing money in the jar. Now I hold coins in my hand and watch the barristas work. The longer it takes and the more inefficient they appear (ie chatting and flirting with one another), more coins move from hand to pocket. If there are any left in my hand when I get my drink, they go in the jar. Jar is on the counter where you pay, but is on the side where the drinks are served. So it's not too rude to reach over and tip. Yesterday I got coffee in a new neighborhood and automatically followed my tipping routine. Service was FAST! But then, the tip jar was completely inaccessible unless I was willing to push a whole line of people out of the way. (Sorry! Next year I promise to tip double!)

Tuesday, November 20

I found my stitches!

It's not that they were lost, I didn't remember they existed.

Readers may remember I am working on a large shawl with a long name from Victorian Lace Today. After finishing one of my three skeins, I calculated that I would be 82 stitches short. However, the border gets knit on smaller needles, so I was carrying on and not worrying too much.

Yesterday I was rooting through my swatch bowl and stumbled upon this:

A swatch of Domy Heather. This is at least 25 stitches by 25 rows, at least 625 stitches. Not only is 625 greater than 82, I can add 625 potential stitches to my calculations for skeins two and three. I have a surplus of 1,793 stitches.

Speaking of looking for stitches... I am a member of an on-line social networking site for knitters and crocheters. A place to share information, finished objects, search for patterns, yarn and especially pattern and yarn combinations. It's really cool and useful. One thing about it bugs me though: its slogan. I don't get it. Why would people who probably do not speak in a particular (and controversial) vernacular adopt it for their slogan? Why would two White kids from Boston think it would be attractive to knitters around the world to use improper English grammar emulating a particular segment of Black culture? A piece of "culture" that has negative connotations and a checkered history. (See Thomas Sowell's Black Rednecks and White Liberals. He argues that Black English is really an adoption of the White Cracker redneck poor English, not something that denotes any proud African heritage.)

I mentioned this to a friend, a much younger friend, who also is a knitter and participant of this very useful site. Her reply surprised me, but it did explain things. It turns out that the slogan was not just some random bit of Black slang turned into a knitting/crocheting context, it is from a hip-hop song. One of those songs with words derogatory, offensive, shocking to some and just plain incomprehensible to many (including me). So now I understand better why those four particular words were used for the slogan, but I don't really understand. Why would a worldwide community of men and women, mostly women, who share a love for creating beautiful and useful objects with their hands want to use a slogan that is tied to a song with lyrics that are nasty, especially nasty towards women? Actually, there's more than one set of lyrics. I am not sure who wrote the song, who wrote which version, who came up with the line in the first place. Seems to be popular though, with cafepress t-shirts and everything. I've tried to read and reread the lyrics to see, perhaps the song is really a homage to women or a particular woman? A love song? I honestly cannot tell.

Tuesday, November 13

Accentuate the positive

Checking in with a few random notes.

  • I ordered a laptop from the Buy One/Give One program of One Laptop Per Child. We've been following the OLPC program for years and happy to see that it is moving forward. Be a philanthropist and a geek at the same time for only $424 including shipping ($200 is tax deductible).

  • I made Pumpkin Soup with Smoked Paprika from Elise's Simply Recipes blog and it was delicious.

  • Progress on the Cambridge Jacket! I got the sleeves seamed acceptably and cut the steek and sewed in a zipper. By hand. My first zipper installation and it worked. The sweater fits Franz well and just needs a collar. How long will that take?

  • I've been knitting other things as well, including lots of progress on the Large Triangle from VLT.LTfVLT11_13

  • Erika and I are doing well with our Hand Dyed Yarn Adventure. We've collectively sold 52 skeins of hand-dyed yarn. Oops, make that 53!


Saturday, October 27

Hairy Math

The Large Rectangle in leaf and trellis pattern with trellis border in Victorian Lace Today calls for 1200 yards of fine weight yarn.

Many people have found that they require more yarn than called for in VLT patterns.

I have three skeins of a fine weight Domy Heather, 100 grams, 475 yards each. A total of 1425 yards, 19% more than the requirements from the pattern.

Will I have enough?

You can skip the math and go right to the conclusions if you wish.

The main body is 94 stitches wide. 30 pattern repeats, 16 rows per repeat. Plus 5 set-up rows.

The border has an 18 row pattern repeat. There are 24 repeats on the long sides, 9 repeats on the short sides and 4 repeats at each corner.

The number of stitches in each row of the border varies, from 19 to 24, averaging 21.9 stitches per row. Not including the spit splicing, the ends woven in or the grafting of 20 stitches to finish the shawl:

Total number of stitches in shawl is 77,914

94 x 16 x 30 + 5 x 94 + 18 x 21.9(48 + 18 + 16) = 77,914

My first skein got me exactly 17 pattern repeats (plus 4 initial rows).

17 x 16 x 94 + 94 x 4 = 25,944

Therefore, I have enough yarn for 77,832 stitches.

25,944 x 3 = 77,832

I am 82 stitches short on yarn. But the border is done on smaller needles. I will optimistically knit on.

Friday, October 26

Getting Thing Done


Don't you just love getting things accomplished? Especially the small niggling things that have been on the To-Do list for ages. Like this stack of Tupperware with cracks that has sat on the pile of crap behind my computer monitor for at least a couple years. Lifetime warranty and all that, I could not find the address to return the items on their website. So I had to sit on hold for 30 minutes waiting for that nice polite young man with the thick Indian accent to provide it to me.

There's still a pile of crap behind my monitor (and next to it as well!) but every little bit helps.

In knitting, also some accomplishments. In the airplane heading east, I finished knitting two socks. All I needed to do afterwards was graft the toes. Anyone with experience carrying a tapestry needle on board? I didn't try. Neither did the two knitters I accosted en route. But you know, tapestry needles aren't sharp or anything. And they are pretty cheap, so losing it at security wouldn't have been the end of the world. Maybe I should acquire a plastic one, but I just don't fly very often. Regardless. They were both second socks, so after the grafting session in the hotel, I had two new pairs to wear. Alas, while Seattle weather has been in the wool sock territory for a month now, DC was still pretty warm.


BFL DK weight, hand-dyed by me. Top-down, garter rib leg and stockingette foot, US2 DPN, 48 stitches wide.


Knit Picks Fingering hand-dyed by me. Monkey Socks from Us2, pattern followed except I did a slip stitch heel flap.

More fun than socks that were too hot to wear, I finished a shawl in time to wear it to my niece's wedding. Zephyr wool silk lace, hand dyed by me. Luna Moth pattern (free on US4 needles, who knows what gauge (I knit tightly in general). I did 7 full pattern repeats, plus the extra half a repeat to get the scallops on the end to point in the correct direction (following the pattern instructions). This blocked out to be almost 60 inches wide and 30 inches from top to bottom. It weighs exactly 50 grams, which means about 600 yards.

My blocking tools were limited, just my container of coil-less safety pins and a hotel carpet, so I didn't get the scallops as open and pretty as the ones on the elann site, but it still looked nice and I can always block it again.

Luna Moth Shawl close-up

Monday, October 22

high score

Instead of me talking about my trip, reunions, wedding or my numerous FOs, how about I wow you with my vocabulary prowess?

Your Vocabulary Score: A+

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.

Only thing is, I found this on someone's blog who had gotten a B+, and the wording said "Don’t fret that you didn’t get every word right, your vocabulary can be easily ameliorated!"

Ameliorated didn't look right to me. Yes it means to make better, but I thought only in a specific way, as in, to improve from dreadful to not-quite-so bad. So either the quiz writer does know more vocabulary than me, or is being snide or is a poser.

Wednesday, October 17

sponsored by the letters C and K

pictureless post from the east coast.

I am halfway through my week on the east coast which is bookended by my 30 year high school reunion and my niece's wedding. One of the last minute tasks for the trip was to make sure I had phone numbers for all the folks I needed to contact.

Kathleen: high school friend and organizer of the reunion
Kathy: college roommate and organizer of a lunch gathering with some other college friends
Cathy: the college friend who couldn't attend lunch, so I am meeting her for dinner separately.
Katharine: my sister, with whom I am staying the week

On the airplane I sat near another knitter. She was just returning from a sock knitting class in the San Juans and had the new sock knitting book written by the conference teacher. She let me look at the book , which was written by

Cat (Bordhi, of course) who had personalized and signed it for:

Saturday, September 29

holiday kal-cal Prize

Marly and Sharon of She-Knits blog and podcast are hosting another knit and crochet along. This time with a holiday theme.

Marly put out the word for Indie Dyers like myself that she was looking for swag, prizes to offer the folks who join in the fun. I agreed, because prizes are such fun and it is a way to advertise Yarn Forest, where Erika and I are selling our hand-dyed yarn.

I pondered what to choose. Should I take something from the store or dye something special? They'll be giving out prizes in January, after the holiday season, so I figured I should think ahead, dye something someone would want to receive when they are fed up with holiday colors, deep into winter and thinking about spring. So I told Marly that I was dyeing some pretty laceweight wool in a happy spring theme. Alas, Marly, things didn't turn out well. Yes, there was a four letter word appropriate for the occasion, a four letter word beginning with an F.

Yup, Felt. I got careless or carried away and felted it to heck. Oh well, I live and learn.

So instead I am offering up some laceweight yarn that I am happy with. It may not be springlike, but the color is a wonderful dusky grey blue purple with a hint of fuchsia. It will make a lovely shawl or scarf or two.


Approximately 4 ounces, 1200 yards of 50% silk 50% merino laceweight yarn. If you want a chance at winning this, join the Holiday Knit and Crochet along.

Wednesday, September 19

Reading Lace

Did I mention that I've gone back to my old job? I think I drafted a post but didn't finalize it. Yes, the day my kid started high school (full time after two years of part-time school/homeschool) I started back at the bookstore.

Some folks fantasize about working at a bookstore just as some fantasize about working at their LYS. Truth is, it's not all standing around reading and having happy chats with customers about good books. And the pay? Um, small business, retail, part-time, those are not words associated with getting rich. But it does have its rewards and it is only part-time. The owner pleaded with me to come back. I don't know how much of that is that I was a model employee and how much of that is that I'm a warm body and they were desperate. Probably a little bit of both, but that's OK. I felt wanted and that's usually a good feeling. She doesn't know about the blog, but I'll have to write as if she'll find out eventually. That's OK. She's a great woman but she does drive me nuts sometimes. And I may mention that here. But nothing that I wouldn't say to her face. I am pretty candid and there isn't much that I wouldn't say to her face, regardless.

I will get access to galleys again and the discount is nice. I already have a list of books I want to order. I'll space them out to keep purchases less than my salary, but that is hard! My knitting book collection could use some expanding, especially Lace books.

Lace! Oh, how I love you!

When I started reading blogs I would read about folks who memorized lace patterns. Patterns that seemed infinitely complicated to me. And sure enough, my first lace projects were hard. I never got comfortable with the pattern in Cece. I persevered and finished the sweater, but each row was slow. Cozy, well, I could never get that pattern figured out. So many mistakes I ended up frogging it. It was only a few different pattern rows, but I never could figure out where I was.

Either something changed or I chose easier patterns, because lately I have been able to read the lace on my needles better. Most of Estonian Garden Wrap was done watching TV. This weekend I cast on for the Large Triangle in Leaf and Trellis in Victorian Lace Today. And to my surprise, I have A) become faster --- already have 10 of the 30 pattern repeats finished and B) Memorized the pattern. I haven't checked the chart since about repeat number 6. And even then it was just a glance or two. What I still cannot get over is that it is so mathematical, so logical, so easy to read, yet the result is so fluid and graceful and curvy.


I am using some wool I got from a vendor at Madrona. The photo does not do it justice. I was told that it was dyed by none other than Judith Mackenzie herself. That's not on the tag, which just says Davidson Corporation. I don't remember the vendor, but she was clearly associated with JM and Jessica was with me at the time and seemed to know the vendor. Anyway, the yarn is a beautiful green, a richly heathered deeply layered green. I loved the yarn at first sight, but didn't realize just how heathered it was until I started knitting with it. How do you dye yarn so heathered? It almost seems impossible, like that it must have been dyed before being spun, but I don't spin so have no knowledge of that.

I've been dyeing some lace myself, some Zephyr. I don't like strongly variegated yarns for lace, but have become so attracted to hand-dyed yarns that commercial dyed yarns just seem flat and one dimensional. My method of dyeing the Zephyr is to slowly add one color after another to get depth and variation within a limited palette. So far I have sold two skeins and have two more available at Yarn Forest. I have one more that I dyed to keep, but it is red. And we've been finding that photographing red is a challenge. And silk is a challenge with its sheen. So getting a picture I like of that will have to wait until I have more time.


Tuesday, September 18

Contest Winners

Thank you all for participating, a variety of sock yarn experiences for sure.

The winners, provided by my son's new-for-high-school graphing calculator's random number generator are the first Elaine (Elaine, are you the Elaine I know who used to keep a blog? Let me know) who will get the set of mini-skeins and QueenMeadow, a homeschooling, running, knitting blogger in Utah who will get the hard to photograph but lovely red skein.

Thanks all for the thoughtful comments. Funny how different people have different experiences. For me, the best socks have been my Koigu ones. I've machine washed and dried them repeatedly. They did fade a bit but have held up well. I don't have any holes in any hand-knit sock yet, but really I got my sock-knitting groove started last spring and I don't wear socks much in the summer. This winter will be the test.

I did get ideas though. Treesh's comment about long staple wools made me think of some fingering corriedale I purchased for lace. But the lace I made with the first skein doesn't stay blocked, it's too springy. Perhaps the second skein wants to be socks? Won't be superwash, but might make some comfy stretchy socks.

Friday, September 14


I thought I was going to have to blog about my dear departed chicken. The other night around 11 pm we heard her scream. I went out to her roost --- the rhododendron in front of the house --- and saw a raccoon hiding underneath. It ran off when I shined a flashlight on it, but no sign of Tasty. No signs of a struggle either, but it was dark. I searched again in the morning after it was light. Still no sign. An hour later, there she was on the back deck, perfectly fine! She's a tough old bird, she is. She did spend the day under the deck, except when I was outside she followed me around, sticking very close. I managed to lock her in the coop overnight. Will that work in the long run? Or will she seek out a new roost? Who knows.

Blog contest! I've been planning a contest to celebrate the opening of Yarn Forest, where Erika and I are selling our hand-dyed yarn. Tasty's escape gave me an idea of how to structure it. By far the most popular yarn for hand-painting and selling is sock yarn. By far the most common use for this yarn is knitting socks. What happens to those socks? How well do they hold up? We've been exploring base yarns and have our favorites, but by no means have we exhausted our search. So you tell us what you like.

Instructions: If you have hand-knit socks, tell me about the ones that survive the best. Which ones, after 6 months or 2 years of wearing and washing, do you still grab first to wear? Or which ones do you leave until it's almost laundry day and there's nothing else available? Leave your answer in a comment or send me an email (address is in my sidebar) and you will be entered in the contest.

If you don't have experience with the longevity of hand-knit socks, you can still be entered, just leave a comment about anything related to sock yarn or hand-dyeing.

One entry per person no matter how many comments you leave. Contest closes Monday September 17th at 11:00 PM my time (that's US Pacific Daylight Savings Time)

Two prizes! Two lucky winners will be chosen at random. One will receive a set of mini-skeins of our super soft merino we call Aurora 6.

The second winner will receive this skein of Aurora 6, one of a dyelot of two. Why? Because this yarn is prettier in person than we've been able to capture in a photograph. Frustrating but true. So while one of the skeins will be listed at Yarn Forest, the other is earmarked as a prize.

reds hard to photograph

Thursday, September 6

short post with pictures

Erika has listed some of my hand-dyed yarn in her etsy store. Go take a peek.

Here's some of my hand-dye that I kept:


One sock, BFL DK weight, shows the length of the color repeat using my jumbo niddy noddy. I love this sock and have been wearing it while I knit the second one. It's thicker than fingering, I knit this on US4s with 48 stitches.


Monkey Sock number one is also done. (Number two is almost at the toe.) This was some of my very first hand-dyed yarn. Cookie's Monkey sock pattern in comes in only one size. I was worried that it would be too small for me, but it isn't. Close though. Knit-Picks Bare sock yarn, knit on US2s.

Look what Franz built. this has already been used, then dismantled to reuse the parts for winder version 2.

Monday, September 3

Backpack part 1: When a tree falls in a forest...

A couple weeks ago my family took a hike. A three day hike. It was supposed to be a four day hike, but we'll get to that later. We like to backpack, but don't actually do it that often. Before the kid, Franz and I maintained about a 50-50 ratio of car camping and backpacking. Well, maybe not 50-50, you know how memory is. Next I will be saying I walked 6 miles every day to school, uphill in both directions. After child, we continued the occasional backpack (starting when Zach was 10 months) but mostly turned to car camping.

So anyway, back to this trip. We hiked a popular loop in the Olympic National Park called The High Divide, although that name more accurately refers to just one section. Starting at the Sol Duc Hot Springs trailhead, the trail follows a river valley up through the forest. Our first day and night we remained in the forest. We have big trees here. Big trees. The day was overcast and damp. Rain was predicted but didn't fall. In the past, such a walk through the damp dark forest with the sound of the river nearby has felt peaceful. But this trip...

Trail through trees

Try this experiment. Get a piece of paper and cover up the right side of that photo. Doesn't that look lovely? Peaceful, serene, green and full of oxygen producing old-growth forest? Now remove the paper. Newly shattered stump. Yes, shattered. What kind of force could do that? Just another tree falling over. And trees fall. We like it when trees fall, it is part of the circle, the cycle, nature at its finest. See the foreground. Trees fell years ago and are turning back into soil. Take your paper and cover up the top of the photo. Don't the logs turning back into soil look peaceful and quiet? Then take the paper away again. Does that look quiet? Do you wish you were witness to that event?

Here's another view. The tree that fell which shattered the other tree was at least 100 feet tall.


Nurse logs, fungus, termites, worms, all seem such a beautiful serene, slow part of nature. I never really concentrated on the dramatic events that start the process. But this hike, as I walked through the woods, every tree reminded me that behind their quiet beauty lies the capability for extreme violence.

I wasn't worried. I didn't expect something to fall on us. It was more a sense of power and darkness, the unknown and unknowable that fueled awareness and anxiety. I was glad to climb above treeline. More about that part of the trip later.

Friday, August 31

Coming to a store near you


Ready for Erika to pick up tomorrow, destined for The Yarn Forest.

Wednesday, August 29

The smell of vinegar in the morning

Looking at this photo:

one might get the impression that I've been dyeing today.

No, that's not quite it though. Long time readers of my blog know I started dyeing wool last spring as a lark, encouraged by the great dyeorama swap of 2006. I took to it like a duck to water, just loved the combination of technical details and artistic play. I dyed way more yarn than I could possibly knit, thought about selling some, but chickened out. That process seemed overwhelming and only for those folks who have more self-confidence than I sometimes feel. So, instead of filling my house with hand-dyed yarn, I stopped.

I've knit some, given some away, but still it was nagging me that I didn't take the plunge and sell some. The biggest benefit of that would be that I could dye some more. Well, Erika has seen my yarn, she's even knit socks from it. She got intrigued with the dye bug as well. But Erika adds something I was missing, an intrepid entrepreneurial spirit. We talked and talked, we dyed yarn, both together and separately and The Yarn Forest is born. It's an Etsy store for now, if it takes off, it will become a stand-alone store for more convenience for shoppers and sellers. She has "soft launched" the store but we hope to have a variety of yarns and colors available real soon now.

I went through my accumulated favorites getting them ready to list. One thing had been nagging me, though. I learned a lot through trial and error and didn't fully come to understand how to completely set the dye until I had been dyeing for a while. Since I could not remember exactly when I had dyed these skeins, I was nervous about selling it. Especially since I had had a terrible experience with a commercial yarn where the dye had not been properly set. Erika was able to take advantage of my experience right away. Just ask her how obnoxiously I demanded that she have patience and steam long enough and let the yarn cool for a long time before letting her look at her first hand-dyed! It was worth it though, her first skein rinsed completely cleanly.

This morning, I gave these precious babies a bath. As I immersed each one into the water, I held my breath. Would it bleed? A very small bit of bleeding and fading over time does seem inevitable. Even my koigu socks faded. I cannot promise a no-fade-ever yarn. The skeins that only very very faintly colored the water or left it sparkling clear passed the test. I rinsed them, added a touch of vinegar to the last rinse --- just to be sure --- and left them to dry in the sun.

The skeins that didn't pass are all getting a little help. These are immersed in vinegar-water and sitting in the sun. That will set the dyes better.

Next, they dry and get reskeined (they were skeined by hand and now I have a niddy noddy for a more professional and uniform size) and the next big test: how can I photograph them accurately? I've tried a variety of methods, but just am not good at photographing the colors well. See my flickr set of hand-dyed yarns, a mixture of yarns, some that will be for sale, some I have knit with, some in progress. Some photos stink, a few show promise. I just have to figure out a reliable way to photograph them well. Comments would be helpful.

One last thing, if anyone has read this far. What would you like to see in a hand-dyed yarn? I've dyed several base yarns and have my favorites, but what are yours? My signature yarn, the main one I have dyed, is a lovely, soft merino. I love this yarn. It knits up beautifully and feels so wonderful. But, it is thicker than most sock yarns and it is not easy care. It will felt if you machine wash it. But I do like my socks and wrist warmers and sweater and throw. I think this would make wonderful baby clothes for the parents willing to hand wash.

Therefore, I, like Erika, have been experimenting with more traditional sock yarns, mostly superwash. We are liking some of them a lot and will continue to look for more.

Virtual Vacation Swap

Originally uploaded by madorville
I got a virtual vacation to New Hampshire, courtesy of Amanda aka nhknittingmama. Although I got married in NH, I haven't spent much time there, so it was fun to get the tour.

Amanda sent maps and brochures along with some candles with scents evocative of New England, a note pad with a beach theme and a note pad with a rooster. I don't know if that's a New England thing or because she knows I have a chicken. Either way, I can never have too many note pads. There are some postcards, soap and even some genuine beach sand. I like to place candles in shallow trays anchored in sand, so that will have a good use as well. And a cotton bag Amanda knit using her own pattern, which was included in the bag along with some gum and candy. The yarn is a beautiful dark green, a color I love, hand-dyed by Amanda. She says it is her first foray into acid dyes. Wow. Given the quality of this color, I am sure she will enjoy more dyeing.

Saturday, August 18

Multiple topics in one handy post

First: Happy Anniversary to me! I've been extra stressed lately and I forgot all about it. I don't feel too bad because so did my husband. It wasn't until I read Canadian Dorothy's blog that I realized what day it was. Turns out that she and I have the same wedding anniversary. So go over there and wish her and her husband many more years of happiness.

Second: Although I am really good with numbers in general, and dates in particular, for some reason, I can never remember my wedding date. I wrote three checks yesterday, all of them accidentally postdated, since my brain insists that we got married on the 18th. Oops.

Third: We went out for dinner, and while it was fine, it was less than perfect. We ended up taking Zach, so not necessarily a romantic getaway, but logistically it made the most sense. Time for romantic meals sans offspring are being planned. As we have rediscovered our inner carnivores after a long journey into vegetarianism, we were hoping to go to Jak's for bacon cheeseburgers. Alas, we got a late start and the dinner rush was underway, the wait was an hour. So we walked across the street to Ciao Bella. We'd had some really nice meals at the old Ciao Bella, but have only been to the new location once, and it wasn't memorable. Last night was memorable because of the awful service. Was it because we had our teen with us on a Friday night? Was it that they noticed we came from Jak's? Whatever reason, they treated us like dirt the whole evening. And my salmon was way overcooked (but the rest of the food was good). Not that they were too crowded or busy with much besides stopping to flirt with the two thirty-something blonds at the next table. I am usually a generous tipper. But last night, no way.

Fourth: I managed to get a lot of errands done yesterday and for the first time in weeks, felt that I had gotten several monkeys off my back. I almost have some monkeys off the needles too. This one just needs a wee bit of decreasing then some grafting. The second sock is at the heel turn.

Fifth: Anyone who's been reading my blog for a while knows that I have enjoyed dyeing yarn and that I am a bit of a math geek. I think that the geekiness is one of the aspects of dyeing I most enjoy. I like to take the time to make very long skeins, so the final result is a bit unusual in that it won't pool or stack in the same way as many hand-dyed yarns. That's not to say it won't pool. I have seen hand-painted yarn with that assurance, but I just don't see how anyone can make such a universal claim. My latest endeavor involves at PVC niddy-noddy that makes skeins more than five yards in circumference. Using a dye process with multiple mason jars simmering in a roasting pan, I can make skeins that won't repeat their color pattern for 190 inches of yarn. But there are still so many factors, the colors may still stack or pool. It all depends.

This swatch is done with Brown Sheep Wildfoot that I dyed using the above long skein method. It has 75 stitches, started on US1 needles, I switched halfway to US0s. The ribbing on US1s gave 5.25 rounds til the yarn color sequence repeated. The stockinette on US1s resulted in 5.5 rounds til the colors repeated. After changing to US0s (and going from about 9 stitches per inch to almost 9.5 stitches per inch) the colors repeated at 5.75 rounds.

What does this mean? Well the long skein and the fact that it took at least five rounds for the color sequence to repeat means that even hugely wide socks in a pattern that takes lots of yarn ought to be able to get a couple three rounds before the color sequence repeats. That should alleviate a lot of dramatically disturbing pooling issues. However, it won't remove them. If the color sequence repeats at exactly N or N+.5 rounds, one could easily get a stacking issue that looks especially nice or especially unbalanced. And having a the sequence repeat at other intervals might end up with nice spirals or weird streakiness. You just never know, do you?

Tuesday, August 14

Sunday's cooking

For a photo of this in the dye pot, see Erika's blog.

Friday, August 10

Some Summer Fun

Our two weeks with a Japanese Home Stay guest flew by. I had been so anxious, but Hitomi turned out to be a wonderful guest and is now a friend. She was able to relax and feel right at home, fulfilling the philosphy of a foreign exchange program. Of course she was the tour coordinator and seasoned traveler, not a high school student on her first overseas trip, so it was easier for her. I heard that the high school students all had great homestays as well. We met one of the two teachers whom we took to Stitch & Pitch. This was her first trip outside Japan and she was having a blast. However, I heard that the other teacher was finding the whole trip kind of stressful. We taught Hitomi an American idiom to describe that sort of person: High Maintenance. She laughed and agreed.

Hitomi likes to hike, so what better way to show her around than to take her to the mountains. We did the easy Barclay Lake hike, with its dramatic view of Mt Baring looming 3000 feet over the lake. I didn't get any photos. Before coming home we detoured a bit on Route 2 to Skykomish, a small town with a big problem. For about 100 years, the railroad has dumped or leaked or spilled fuel and who knows what else onto and into the ground. In order to clean it up, just about every building in town is being picked up, the contaminated dirt dug out and hauled away, then clean fill poured in and the building restored.

Our second weekend we had more adventures. Saturday we hiked to Snow Lake, a popular hike with an easy access trailhead at Snoqualmie Pass. The parking lot (a large lot for the Alpental ski resort) was quite full and we had to wait in line at the trailhead at the self-register station (because we were bozos and didn't notice that there were two(!) registration stations) but the trail did not seem crowded and the lake front was even less so.

The Japanese student group had been to Snoqualmie Falls, but a local bus driver who got lost (argg) meant that they hadn't had much time to walk around. So we took Hitomi back, on the way home from Snow Lake. No pictures, but if you ever watched Twin Peaks, you've seen the Falls.

Sunday, our last day to be tour guides, we took a quintessential Seattle trip on a ferry boat. We took Metro downtown and walked on the Bremerton Ferry. Not that we wanted to do anything in Bremerton, we just grabbed lunch and came home, but because it's a pretty ride. This was the last day of the airshow and the Blue Angels buzzed the ferry as they were playing around getting ready for the show.

The water was full of jellyfish, more than I had ever seen. The view of Seattle was clear and pretty (yes, that's the space needle above Hitomi's head) but we didn't see any orcas. I don't think I have ever seen them from the ferry though.

Our tour-guide hikes with Hitomi served a second purpose. With an upcoming backpack, we especially need to get some hiking in for conditioning purposes.

Our family vacation will occur at the end of August, a 4 day loop of the High Divide in the Olympic Mountains. This area is popular, so to keep it from being overrun, the National Parks requires reservations and permit. Franz called and got our campsite reservations, plus information on the bear can requirements. Bears? Yes, checking the trip reports of the Washington Trails Association, black bears are common.

Yesterday, I took Zach to REI for new boots.
clerk: NOLS trip?
me: No, we're going to do the High Divide.
clerk: You mean in the Olympics?
me: Yes.
clerk: Awesome. I was just there in June. In one afternoon we saw 7 bears and some cubs. They were having so much fun, eating berries and glissading on the snow.
me: Seven Bears! I'd heard they were around. Now I am really worried about getting eaten.
clerk. Nah, black bears don't eat people, they just maul.

Thursday, August 9

Swans or peacocks?

Time for a question.

For Mystery Stole 3, I dyed some yarn. Melanie, the stole's designer, said that the theme would be best expressed in a black or white stole. (we now know that the theme is Swan Lake; a ballet I have not seen.) I chose to make a very dark green kettle-dyed yarn. This swatch is a pretty good representation of the result, which ended up more blue-green than green.

I kept up with the clues, knitting the stole, up through clue 3. Does it look swan like?

It's nice, but I am not feeling the love. Perhaps I am just not a stole person. Or maybe my idea of a stole is more like a wrap --- wider than 20 inches. My finished Leda's Dream is a generous 24 inches wide and I love how it wraps around me, but this one won't. The yarn, Henry's Attic Carrera, is lovely, but I just don't think it's the right weight for the stole. So I set it aside for a bit.

Meanwhile, after finishing Leda's Dream, I've been hankering to start something new --- Fiddlestick's Peacock Feathers Shawl. I dyed some yarn, Zephyr, thinking that I wanted something similar to the Carrera, a subtle variegated blue-green but also with an occasional blip of red and yellow, peacock-like. Well, I , um, forgot to add black so I got completely different results.

It's pretty, but not what I had in mind. So now I am stuck. What to do now? Should I keep going with the Mystery Stole and the Peacock Shawl or should I frog the Mystery Stole and use that yarn for a new peacock shawl?

Times like these sure make me wish I could knit faster. Then frogging wouldn't seem so harsh.

Monday, August 6

Leda's Dream

Summer is in full swing, but Fall seems to be in the air here in Seattle. All it took was one chilly morning to get my neighbors, friends and random strangers at the grocery store all talking about --- and looking forward to --- Fall. And rain. And grey skies. Seattleites tend toward two camps: those that complain that only a dozen days with temperatures above 80 degrees F (26 degrees C) does not a Summer make and those who complain that four days of temperatures above 90 degrees (32 C) are just too damn many and when it is going to get rainy and cold again.

Me. Well, I'm in the latter camp. Sure, I am happy we've had enough warm weather that my tomatos are going gangbusters, that we've had so little rain I haven't had to mow the lawn for a few weeks, but shortening days and the need to put on a sweater occasionally are not things to mourn. I know we still have many weeks of good weather, more berries to ripen, more time to play and hike and camp.

A little crispness will give me a reason to wear something soft and cozy, Leda's Dream Stole, design by Melanie Gibbons. This was Mystery Stole number One. I wasn't even a knitter when she created this knitalong, but she sells the pattern for two bucks. Very clear instructions, very clear charts, well worth the investment.

Now what I really need to invest in is blocking wires. I blocked this by pinning it out and it looks much better than before, but still doesn't look finished. I'll get some wires and redo the blocking.

yarn is one strand of Zephyr and one strand of Madil Kid Seta knit together. Both are dark grey, the slight variation in the color along with the silk content of each yarn make for a rich depth of color I have found impossible to photograph.
US 6 addi lace needles.

  • slipped the first stitch of every row.
  • used a centered double decrease (slip 2tog, k1, pass slipped stitches over) instead of the slip 1, k2tog, psso in the pattern, except, I used the angled decrease for the wave edging.
  • cast on 12 fewer stitches that the pattern called for, and knit fewer repeats (26 of the Wing of the Swan pattern)
Blocked dimensions: 24x70 inches.

Monday, July 30

Too many holes.

Caution. Minor HP spoilers ahead.

I used to work at a leading independent children's bookstore, owned by an energetic mover and shaker in the world of selling children's books. Therefore, just about any author of children or teen lit on tour would come to our store and I met a lot of them. I never met the author whose name rhymes with bowling, she only toured for her first book and that was before I started my job. The boss and manager had dinner with her way back then. Thought she was a nice woman and that her book had some potential.

I did meet, twice, a nice young woman whose name sort of rhymes with Hay Shears. On her second book tour, I had a chance to chat with her before her reading. I wasn't trying to be mean or anything, but sometimes I ask questions without thinking them through. I was trying to be sympathetic to the challenges of writing when I commented on (one of) the continuity errors. As she developed the characters and found it would really help to tweak the past, she must have had to wrestle with the editor? How did an author decide to change facts from book to book? She gave me a deer in the headlights look and asked what I meant. Well, I said, one of the main character's grandmother lived in one state and had had limited contact with her grandkids over the years. In the next book, grandma lived in a different state and the grandkids had (until a few years ago) spent significant parts of their summers with her. No. She had not realized this, nor had the editor caught it. Oops.

One European author who is popular abroad didn't need to tour the US so I haven't met her. I got to read the galley of her second book (second published in America that is, riding on the reading wave sparked by Ms Rhymes with Bowling) right after it arrived at the store and it was a good read, but oh dear, the climax of that book had a glaring error. At one point, two people are locked in a building as two other people leave. The building is being watched; any activity would have been noticed. Then someone sets fire to the building so as I was reading I was worrying about the folks trapped inside. Well, the author wasn't --- somehow they ended up somewhere else. The galley had a very friendly note asking for comments, so I very helpfully emailed the editor. I hoped this could be caught before the final version was printed? I got a polite thank you, but I don't think anyone actually read the email or else didn't care. The book was published just like the galley. Did anyone else ever notice, I wonder? (props if you did. let me know.)

Ms Rowling has written seven books with the same characters. Seven! She's done an admirable job overall with continuity within and between volumes. So consistent that I could forgive occasional lapses, such as the fact that at the end of one book, Harry has lost his Marauder's Map to someone not inclined to give it back. However, at the beginning of the next book it is back in his possession. And the lack of internal consistency on whether or not apparition makes noise. And on and on, actually. There are lots of continuity errors, but I've been willing to forgive them. Overall the books have been good stories with decent consistency.

I finished Book Seven and enjoyed it. Didn't like the epilogue. Really didn't like the epilogue. But my husband thought perhaps she wanted to stress that these folks lived regular ordinary boring happy lives and therefore she was Not Going To Write About Them Anymore. I also noticed in chapter one a squat man with a wheezy giggle who was on the Dark Side and who took special delight in the fact that the Ministry had been infiltrated. Who was he? Was he in the Ministry? JK is usually good about following up on these sorts of clues, so I expected him to reappear. Two short men with high pitched, wheezy voices did appear: Elphias Doge and Deadalus Diggle. Which one was an agent for evil? What would happen to the Dursleys? Well, nothing was said again. I was irked. But oh well. Easy to forgive. And no one else I have talked to found it troubling.

This weekend I decided it was time to restart Book Seven. I had memorized the edging pattern for Leda's Dream and figured I could knit while rereading, to see if I was justified in being irked about the anonymous short wheezy guy and maybe I would understand the whole Elder Wand thing better. But on page one, I started thinking about chapter one and the rest of the book and a huge plot hole became apparent. A quick check of a scene near the end of the book confirmed it. I was stunned. I was furious. How could such a major glaring error in time sequencing have been allowed?

This is perhaps the straw that breaks the hippogriff's back. I am surprised at myself for my reaction but I am really pissed off. Does anyone else know which error I must mean? Am I overreacting?

Monday, July 23

Seven Things

1. I am not reading blogs or much of the internet at all, so I don't stumble across spoilers before I finish HP7. I ought to finish by this afternoon, now that F and Z are gone and there isn't any competition for the book. One blog exception is Erika, since I was pretty sure she wouldn't be posting any spoilers. She just have a birthday, so go over and wish her many happy returns, if you haven't already.

2. I finished the pillow and have sewn two bags.

3. My introverted family went out of our boring comfort zone and volunteered to host a Japanese student here on a student trip for two weeks. Zach studies Japanese and we are thinking of traveling to Japan next year. I've always wanted to host a foreign exchange student, but the timing never worked out until now. So this was a great opportunity. We said on the application that we would be willing to host an adult accompanying the students. It turned out that we did get an adult, H, which was fine by me. I have to admit I was a bit relieved to get an adult who has traveled before and knows English very well for our first experience with this sort of thing. H is the trip coordinator and works for a travel agency. While she has traveled a lot, in the past on these student trips she has stayed by herself in a hotel, which was quiet and lonely. She is happy to be with a family.

4. H is from Nagasaki. The flower of Nagasaki is the Hydrangea, and ours are in full bloom right now.

5. A few weeks ago, when a friend offered to pick up Stitch and Pitch tickets, while we were still debating whether to volunteer to be a host family, I went ahead and ordered an extra ticket, just in case. Would our student want to attend a baseball game with us? And would the student be interested in sitting with a bunch of knitters? I didn't know, but the tickets aren't expensive so it seemed worth the gamble. H is interested, in fact she asked about baseball, since the Mariners have a player from Nagasaki.

6. And she crochets. But she still thinks it's a little strange to have knitters attend a baseball game, but I think once she is there it will make more sense.

7. Last year Franz and Zach came to Stitch and Pitch, but it is looking like Franz will be going on a business trip to California the end of this week. But his boss is a little flaky when it comes to finalizing schedules, so we don't know yet. I am not sure about Zach, but I am guessing that without Franz, he might be less interested in attending. Therefore we may have two extra tickets. If anyone is interested in them, let me know.